By Todd Martens
Los Angeles Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Her Story” a video game about a woman talking to the police, won narrative categories at both the Independent Games Festival awards and the Game Developers Choice awards. “Girls Mark Games” an organization which inspires young women to learn game design was also honored. (Awarding diversity and empowering women in tech….Pretty cool!)
Los Angeles Times
Forget “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” and never mind “Fallout 4,” independents dominated the video game industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony on Wednesday evening.
While “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” did walk away with game of the year honors at the Game Developers Choice Awards, it was Sam Barlow’s experimental mobile game “Her Story” that won the night.
“Her Story” won narrative categories at both the Independent Games Festival awards and the Game Developers Choice awards, each held Wednesday evening in San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference industry convention.
Though it may look like a relic from the mid-1990s, complete with a retro computer operating system and full-motion video, “Her Story” is entirely modern, playing on the voyeuristic tendencies of our social media age. To understand how to play, players need only know how to search.
A detective story at its heart, “Her Story” relies on full-motion video, asking players to use different search terms to put back together a mystery. “Make the game you want to make,” creator Barlow said while accepting one of his five awards of the evening. “Make stupid ideas, extreme ideas. Do things that only you would enjoy.”
Independent games had a strong showing at the more mainstream-focused Game Developers Choice awards, as the thoughtful platform title “Ori and the Blind Forest” propelled Moon Studios to win in the debut and visual art fields.
Additionally, San Diego studio Psyonix bested bigger games such as “Fallout 4” and “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” to win the design trophy for its wacky cars-plus-soccer game “Rocket League.”
“Her Story,” meanwhile, won the grand prize at the IGF awards, which honored a diverse slate of games such as subway-building title “Mini Metro” (audio) and bomb-diffusing virtual reality-focused game “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes” (design). In winning the grand prize at the IGF ceremonies, Barlow was awarded $30,000.
“Cibele,” which chronicles the awkwardness and heartbreak of an online relationship, won IGF’s “nuovo award,” given to a game that celebrates unconventional game design. “Keep making super-experimental games that push us to make games differently,” said designer Nina Freeman. “That’s the most important thing we can do.”
Elsewhere, L.A.’s Night School Studios took the IGF award for excellence in visual art for its “Oxenfree,” and the slice-of-not-so-ordinary-teen growing pains “Life Is Strange” took home the audience award at the GDC ceremonies.
Girls Make Games, dedicated to inspiring young women to learn game design, received an Xbox-sponsored rising star award at the IGF proceedings. “There are hundreds of thousands of girls out there that want to make games, that want to be a part of this industry, and I urge everyone here to extend a hand out, that’s all you need to do at this point,” said Girls Make Games founder Laila Shabir.
Bethesda’s Todd Howard, who has worked on “Skyrim” and the “Fallout” series, was given a lifetime achievement award, noting that “games can teach you about yourself and the world around you.” Tracy Fullerton, who oversees USC’s game design program, received an ambassador award.
“We need new voices to thrive and grow as an art form,” said Fullerton, who focused her speech on the importance of increasing diversity in the game industry. “And, yes, we are an art form. What an art form. What a moment for our art form.
Just think of what we could do right now, what we are doing right now and then project yourself 10-20 years in the future.
“We are standing on the cusp of a revolution in play, and we need to start getting as many possible new voices as we can in this industry,” said Fullerton.